Alasdair MacIntyre and Adam Smith on markets, virtues and ends in a capitalist economy

Business Ethics, the Environment and Responsibility 32 (4):1126-1138 (2023)
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In recent decades, Alasdair MacIntyre has developed a style of moral philosophy and an argument for Neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics that has deeply influenced business ethics. Most of the work inspired by MacIntyre has dealt with individual and organisational dimensions of business ethics rather than the market economic environment in which individuals and organisations operate. MacIntyre has been a fierce critic of capitalism and economics. He has read Adam Smith an advocate of selfish individualism, rule-based ethics and the banishment of teleology. This reading is seriously defective, and Smith in fact offers much of what MacIntyre calls for in economics. MacIntyre's ethical framework can be made more powerful and useful to business ethicists by incorporating Smithian insights, especially Smith's account of market virtues and teleological account of markets as extended cooperation directed towards the common good of wealth creation. Aside from issues of the interpretation of MacIntyre and Smith, this analysis opens new pathways for dialogue between business ethicists and economists.



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Nicomachean ethics.H. Aristotle & Rackham - 2014 - Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co.. Edited by C. D. C. Reeve.
After virtue: a study in moral theory.Alasdair C. MacIntyre - 1981 - Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press.
Summa Theologica.Thomasn D. Aquinas - 1273 - Hayes Barton Press. Edited by Steven M. Cahn.
A Secular Age.Charles Taylor - 2007 - Harvard University Press.

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